A couple of weeks ago I finished a totally different series called The Second Realm. I enjoyed doing doing it so much I decided to do another. Only this one won’t be posted every week like the last one. I learned two very important things doing the last series. 1) I really don’t like deadlines. I felt duty bound to produce something each and every week. 2) I wrote chapters of approximately 1,500 words. I really didn’t like being restricted to that particular number.
So I’m throwing caution to the wind. I’m going to write chapters in full. I’m not going to holdback anything – illustrations, backstory, etc. I’ll post the the chapters when I feel they are ready for public consumption. This particular chapter is almost 3,000 words long. So you haven’t the time or patience to read that many words (that’s about twenty minutes out of your life) I suggest you read something else.
Summons From Afar and The Second Realm are two very different stories. Some elements may be the similar, but they are still two different stories. Each will be able to stand on their own merits. I would like it very much if you could leave some sort comment, in English (the only language I understand), if you like the story.
Chapter 1 – Summons From Afar –Ver. 2.
For some reason, one his parents never told him about, Brad had always liked watching the mail being delivered. He turned his head and watched the days mail crash to the floor of his new apartment. No doubt it was the usual assortment of bills, medical journals, and the daily supply of junk mail. The apartment, and in fact the entire building, had been a gift to City Hospital from the local university. The building used to be part of the universities dormitory system. But it proved to be too much for the university to handle. They were constantly making repairs. When City University gifted the building to the hospital it was with the clear understanding that the entire interior had to be gutted, and the dorm rooms would be converted into apartments. When the conversion and the repairs were complete the hospital offered the reborn apartments to the staff. For most, it was a simple case of economics, and the building was soon full.
Of course, there were a number of detractors who thought the entire arrangement was either too good to be true, or just plain fishy. In the end, the detractors were proven wrong. The staff was close to the hospital that much is true. But the fact that several hundred employees were closer was far outweighed by the fact that every employee had substantial economic savings by the elimination of a costly, and tiring commute.
But today Brad was far too busy relaxing in his Laz-E-Boy recliner reading a British medical journal called The Lancet. When he got a new apartment he stocked it exclusively with furniture from Ikea. If somebody took a close look they’d discover that every piece of furniture had a name. The shelving that held his two hundred piece compact disc collection was Besta. The sofa was Landskrona, and the table was Lack. The kitchen had even more exotic names, but none he could possibly repeat.
Dr. Brad Foster treated himself to a recliner. Although he was in his mid-thirties the ten-twelve hour stints in surgery were taking its toll. The disks in his spine were slowly being compressed. Relaxing in the chair seem to heighten his senses. The soundproofing was immaculate. The only place it was lacking was around the door frame. So when somebody moved in (nobody had moved out yet) you couldn’t help but notice it. When he heard a thump-thud from the direction of the hall he decided to see what was going on. He pulled himself out the recliner, made a slight turn at the side table named Lack, and walked towards his front door. He had a specially ordered wide-angle peephole installed in the door. The original was cracked and foggy so he had it replaced. As he peered through the peephole all he could see was the brown carpet in the hall with eggshell colored walls. Nothing seemed amiss. Then he noticed it. A small cardboard box was beside the doorway of the vacant apartment directly across the hall. There wasn’t any indication of the new owner so Brad walked back to the recliner. He picked up the copy of The Lancet and sat down. That’s when he heard another thud from the hall. Soon another thud was heard. Brad put his medical journal on the table, got up, and returned to the door. Looking through the peephole he could see the back of a young woman struggling with the door while attempting to hold onto yet another box. Brad decided to help her. When he opened his door he looked into the face of someone who looked familiar.
“Hello there. Why don’t I hold that for you?” he said grasping the box marked books.
The woman looked up. With her at five foot two inches, and him easily six foot tall she had to cock her head upwards.
Her voice was familiar as was her face.
“Doctor Foster?” said the woman who was struggling to get her keys out the door lock. “I didn’t know you lived in this building”. Then the bottom of the box Brad was holding broke open and it’s contents spilled onto the floor. It was full of paperback books.
The woman looked at the floor, then looked at Brad.
“Oops. I guess I put too many books in that box.”
“I don’t think the books minded the sudden landing. Would you mind terribly if I gave you a hand?”
The woman started massaging her neck. As she waited for Brad to say her name she noticed Brad start to fidget and become nervous.
“You don’t remember my name do you?” said the woman.
Brad tried thinking of some witty comeback. His memory failed him.
“I apologize profusely. I’m terrible with names. I know you’re a doctor and we both work at City Hospital. But aside from that, I’m guilty as charged. I try to remember names along with some attribute of the person.”
“Well, what attribute did you use for me?”
“That’s an excellent question. I have a really hard time with those too.”
The woman waited as she massaged the back of her neck again. When she tilted her head back she smiled.
“Got it!. You’re Doctor Mildred Shine. You work in pediatrics, and you drive a yellow Honda Civic.”
“Wow. That’s pretty impressive. What feature of me did you use to remember all that?”
“You have a fantastic smile. When you smile your teeth are so white they almost shine. I knew I’d remember.”
“Well thank you. I haven’t had a compliment about my smile in a long time. Do you mind if I make a suggestion?”
Brad crossed his arms in a somewhat defensive posture.
“Since it appears we’re going to be neighbors why don’t we call each other by each other by our first names. Please call me Milly.”
“And I’d appreciate it if you called me Brad. But it might be a good idea if we kept our Doctor titles when we’re at the hospital. Now, can I help you with boxes, furniture, and all those wonderful things that go with moving.”
“Would you mind terribly if peeked in your apartment. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to furnish Casa Shine.”
“By all means. Snoop to your heart’s delight.”
Milly stuck her head in the door trying to gather as much information about Brad Foster as she could without it being obvious. As she wandered around the living room she couldn’t help but notice all the crushed Ikea boxes.
“Wow. Now I know who keeps Ikea in business.” As she reached for the closet door Brad spoke up.
“All you’ll find in the closet is a quarter ton of bubble wrap and popcorn Styrofoam. If you go to the store for a simple wingnut or a bolt they’ll put it in a box two feet square and encase the bolt in nine acres of bubble wrap.”
She slowly inspected the rack holding the compact discs. She made a mental of the titles. Then she turned towards Brad and asked him a question.
“Is everything from Ikea Brad?”
“Everything except the compact disc player, the discs, and the recliner. The rest of the apartment is strictly from Ikea. I better get the empty boxes down to the garbage room before they become permanent residents. Do you mind if ask you a question, Milly? It’s about that wonderful experience called moving.”
“Sure thing. Fire away.”
“When you’re putting everything in boxes before you moved, were there any surprises?”
“Before I answer do you mind if I sit down?”
Milly plunked herself down in the recliner.
“By all means. I should have offered. You’ll have to excuse my bachelor manners. Let me make it up by offering you a ride to and from work. I’d offer you a cup of coffee but I’m out. Now if you drank beer-”
She tilted her head back and smiled.
“Ah, Nectar of the gods. I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
As Brad moved toward the small kitchen he said out loud “Somethings tells we’re going to get along just fine.”
A little unsure of the new neighbor she asked: “What makes you think that Doctor Foster?”
As Brad reached into the fridge he noticed the sudden change in the tone of this little get together.
“Brad, you can relax. I’m just messing with you. But before I forget your question I better answer it. There were constant surprises, but they all had the same theme. When I was boxing things up I was really surprised by how much junk I had. And when I say junk I mean honest to god junk. When I was in pre-med I was living on my own for the first time. My mom got me an iron. It was great, but when it died it really died. There was a short in the plug, sparks went everywhere, and all the electronics inside it got fried. I found it just the other day. I think I was using it for a doorstop. You probably experienced somewhat the same.”
Brad took a drink from his beer bottle.
“You bet I did. First I found some old Road & Track magazines that I’d been holding on to. Then there were other magazines. Mostly Time and Newsweek. Three weeks ago I found some of my old papers from college. And I have no idea why I was holding on to any of that.”
As Milly was sitting in the recliner when her hand touched the vibrate button.
“Holy Moccasins! Oh, what’s going on? Ohhhhh that feels nice. The tension in my neck is going away. Why didn’t tell me about this chair.”
“To be honest I completely forgot. I don’t use that feature at all. I should have warned you about it.”
“Now that I know about it you’ll have a hard time getting rid of me.”
“There’s another button on the right armrest that moves the seated person back even further. If you press it you’re almost perfectly level with the floor.”
“That I’ve got to try!”
Just after she pressed the button the vibrating continued. The seat rose and the headrest dropped slightly. Brad found himself looking at the bottoms of Milly’s shoes.
“You know Doc, you really got something. But I think I’ll pass on this particular feature. Now how to do I get back a normal seated position?”
“Just squeeze the right armrest. That’s how you turn off the vibration feature and return to a normal sitting position. Maybe after work tomorrow we can retrieve the rest of your things at your old apartment”.
As the chair came down to a normal position Milly put her arms on the armrest and pushed her head up.
“Since we just met why don’t we take things slow. No need to rush things. But I will take you up on that offer of a ride in the morning if it’s still good. I’m not sure what kind of day I’m going to have so I’ll text you if I need a ride home. Sound OK?”
The next morning Milly knocked on Brad’s door. No answer. She started thinking unkind thoughts that were most unladylike. She knocked again only considerably louder. Milly heard some muttering, and what sounded like someone cursing after banging into furniture. She heard the sound of the door being unlocked.
Brad stood in his doorway wearing striped pajamas.
“Milly I know I promised a ride to and from work but…” Brad looked his watch. “Good Gravy, its only five in the morning. Even the roosters are still asleep!”.
“I know its a little early but I have early morning shift.”
“A little bit early…
“You know the old saying…last hired is the first fired.”
“Alright, you got me. Brad Foster never goes back on his word. I promised you a ride and a ride you shall have. Just let me get dressed.”
The door closed. Milly waited some more, and was not thrilled about the delay. After ten minutes she banged on the door.
“Come on Schweitzer move it! I’m going to be late if we don’t hustle.”
A few seconds after Milly stopped talking the door opened. Brad was fully dressed.
“Holy Cow. Cleaned, watered, pressed. Even your tie is on straight. But you still forgot something, Sherlock. Your shirts sticking out of your fly.”
“Let’s go down to the garage, and I’ll show you my pride a joy. And before you start getting antsy and nervous it’s got four wheels.”
As they walked down the hall Brad quickly tucked his shirt in, and zipped up his fly.
As they walked down the hall with the brown carpet and eggshell colored walls there was a round of applause. In Milly’s haste to get the day started, she neglected to take the other residents into account. When she ferociously knocked on Brad’s door she woke up most of the floor.
“Oh jeez. I think I have a few apologies to make,” she said.
“I tend to agree. Something tells me you aren’t going to make the resident of the month this month,” replied Brad as they waited for the elevator.
When it arrived The two entered and Brad pressed the button marked PL1 for Parking Level 1.
“There’s another button marked PL2, but it doesn’t do a darn thing. There aren’t enough people in the building yet. There’s talk of turning it into a pool but that decision will up to structural engineers.”
“When we get out the elevator how far do we have to walk? I have a mild case of claustrophobia,” asked Milly.
“Not far. Only about twenty feet. I like to park as close to the elevator as I can.”
The elevator stopped moving. “And here we are. Dr. Shine your chariot awaits.”
As Milly exited the elevator her eyes fixed on 1965 fire engine red Mustang. “Now that is what I call a car! This must be a classic. These came out when my dad was still a boy.”
As she took her seat in the bucket seat she ran her hand over the upholstery. And she noticed it still had the new car smell she loved so much.
As Brad got in he said “I restored this car from the ground up. Everything in it is specific for this car model, make and year. Everything with the exception of you and me.”
Milly’s jaw dropped open as she surveyed the level of detail. She looked into the back. “This car is simply freakin’ gorgeous. It feels wonderful and smells brand new.” Her eyes just bulged. “Is this from 1967?”
“This Ford Mustang is from 1965. Everything in it is from 1965. I spent five years bringing her back from the dead. Even the screws in it are from 1965.”
Brad loved the Mustang. He loved everything about it. But most of all he loved showing it off. And Milly’s knowledge almost rabid interest in it was a bonus.
“What is your cars name? Please tell me you gave her a name,” she asked.
“You know, I never really thought about giving the car a name. I suppose we could give it a name. I’ve got one in mind but I’d need your permission.”
“Why in heavens name would need my permission? It’s your car, Brad”
“But the name I have in mind is yours”
“You want to name your car after me? I can see a Volkswagen being called Milly but not this car. It looks too good. This car just oozes sex appeal.”
“OK, then what about MJ?”
Milly looked puzzled. Brad could tell she trying figure out what MJ stood for.
“OK, I’ll bite. What the heck does MJ stand for?
“I thought you were going to say the initials stood for Spiderman’s girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. Wait a minute. When you called her Milly Junior was that another way of saying I was sexy?”
Brad didn’t answer. He started pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor. With the engine whining to be unleashed he touched the transmission and put “MJ” in gear. The wheels spun, screeched, then grabbed the pavement beneath them. MJ, Milly, and Brad rocketed up the garage ramp and into a fresh new dawn. Their heads snapped back as MJ accelerated and Milly roared with excitement. The nearly deserted streets made the commute to the hospital a quick one. When they were stopped at red light Milly leaned towards Brad.
“Something tells me you’re not going to answer my question are you?” asked Milly.
“What do you think?” replied Brad.